Guide: Tips for adopting a cat

Whether you’re bringing home your first cat or adding one to your family, here are some tips from American Humane to help you prepare.

Sandrina Rodrigues

Aug 8, 2023, 8:30 AM

Updated 352 days ago


Guide: Tips for adopting a cat
Are you ready to adopt a cat?
When adopting, you are making a commitment to care for a furry friend for the rest of his/her life. 
Whether you’re bringing home your first cat or adding one to your family, here are some tips from American Humane to help you prepare:

1. Consider taking home two

Cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other. Plus they’ll provide more benefits to you. Cats' purring has been shown to soothe humans as well as themselves. A great place to start your search is online. Sites like let you search numerous shelters in your area simultaneously to help narrow your search, and more quickly find the match that’s right for you and your new feline friend.

2. Personalities are important

Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.

3. Pick at vet

Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit.

4. Prepare everyone in the house

Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction. Here are some tips on how to introduce a new cat to another cat. And click HERE and HERE for tips to introduce your cat to a dog. Here are some warning signs to look out for. 

5. Budget for the costs of a cat

Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification.
Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers. Here's a general list for cats from the ASPCA.

6. Cat-proof your home

A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).

7. Take it slow

Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded to a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys, and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets.

8. Emergency plan

Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list.

9. Gifting a cat? Remember this:

If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry – this is a real living, breathing, and emotional being.

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